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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Trial of Joseph Brodsky

May 23 issue of New Yorker Magazine was a great one. Great story on Clarence Darrow that provoked my interest in last Thursday's NPR Diane Rehm show to which I called in. Found out Friday at least one person in Collinsville heard me on air.
Also short story The Trusty by my friend Ron Rash.
Couple days ago this part of the profile of Nobel Poet Joseph Brodsky registered with me. I hope some readers of my blog appreciate it and read the whole thing online, simple google search
Quoting New Yorker at some length:

mong the intelligentsia, it later be came a point of faith, if not exactly of pride, that the Soviet regime had intuited Brodsky’s greatness earlier than just about anyone. Loseff deflates this notion; in fact, he explains, the initiative for the arrest came from the head of a community-watch group; he had heard of Brodsky’s local fame and Brodsky happened to live within his jurisdiction in Leningrad. That was all. The Soviet regime stumbled onto one of the great prodigies in the history of the Russian language pretty much by accident.

Brodsky’s trial took place in two sessions, several weeks apart, in February and March of 1964; in between, Brodsky was confined to a mental hospital, where it was determined that he was psychologically fit to work. The trial was a farce, its outcome predetermined. “Trial of the freeloader Brodsky,” a sign outside the courtroom read, a little prejudicially. Inside, neither the judge nor the people testifying against Brodsky had any interest in his poetry. Brodsky, who remained unpublished, made what money he could doing translations, sometimes working from literal translations when he didn’t know the source language; his accusers wanted to know, among other things, how this was possible, and whether Brodsky wasn’t exploiting his collaborators on such projects. Much of the case turned on whether writing was a real job if it brought little or no income:

CITIZEN ACCUSER: We checked. Brodsky says he got 150 rubles from a job, but actually it was 37.
BRODSKY: That’s the advance! That’s just the advance! It’s only part of what I’ll get later.

Brodsky at the time was not yet twenty-four. His friend Rein recalls how the second session of the trial fell on Maslenitsa, or Butter Week, the traditional pancake-eating holiday in advance of Lent. Consequently, on the day of the trial, Rein and some other friends went to the restaurant at the Hotel European to eat pancakes. Then, at four o’clock, they went to the courthouse. Not everyone, in other words, had a sense of the gravity of the occasion.

Brodsky did. Throughout the short trial, he appears to have been serious, quiet, respectful, and firm in his conviction about what he was put on earth to do:

JUDGE: Tell the court why in between jobs you didn’t work and led a parasitic life style?
BRODSKY: I worked in between jobs. I did what I do now: I wrote poems.
JUDGE: You wrote your so-called poems? And what was useful about your frequent job changes?
BRODSKY: I began working when I was 15 years old. Everything was interesting to me. I changed jobs because I wanted to learn more about life, about people.
JUDGE: What did you do for your motherland?
BRODSKY: I wrote poems. That is my work. I am convinced. . . . I believe that what I wrote will be useful to people not only now but in future generations.
JUDGE: So you think your so-called poems are good for people?
BRODSKY: Why do you say of the poems that they are “so-called”?
JUDGE: We say that because we don’t have any other idea about them.

In the end, the judge sentenced the so-called poet to five years of exile and labor up north, to straighten him out.

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